Hit Habit Forecast is a regular column of the Hit Habit Makers, a group of young planners at Hakuhodo HQ that gamely stood up to say they were going to create hit habits—not hit products—as consumption shifts from purchasing things to purchasing experiences.
Analyzing social media accounts and purchasing data of highly sophisticated users and conducting analysis on popular articles, etc. in a variety of media that have their fingers on the pulse of social trends: this is the bold, new challenge of forecasting hit habits that are about to break.
I am Ikumi Baba of the Hit Habit Makers.
When July rolls around, it somehow feels like the start of summer proper. In previous years, many people would be starting to make their summer vacation plans. But this year, things are rather trickier, with it all but impossible to make plans for the summer due to COVID-19.
In this edition, I introduce “Ouchi Kiko” (writing travel diaries from home), a new habit that is gaining traction during the outbreak of COVID-19 in place of actual travel, that great staple of summer vacations. Ouchi Kiko is the habit of reliving previous trips by re-writing travel diaries (activities and impressions of a trip) on social media and blogs to enjoy something of the sensation of travel during this time when it’s not possible to travel freely.
For example, in the case of social media, adding one’s impressions to photos taken during previous travels and posting them, or, in the case of blogs, writing detailed self-styled travel diaries, with such details as the travel itinerary and impressions at the time. Reading this far, you may think that this is not much different from the posts people make when they go on trips normally, but with the addition of hashtags, etc. and the understanding that these travel diaries will be shared with others, the content of these posts is changing. Specifically, people are sharing each other’s trips with Japanese language hash tags such as “#RelivetheBeautyoftheWorld” and “#GoingMadWithCovidSoLetsShareTravelPhotos”.
Instead of simply proclaiming that they have taken a trip, since the intention is to share each other’s travels, these posts contain photos mostly of the landscapes of the destination, with very few photos of the travelers themselves. The writing, too, is not statements of fact, like “I went to such and such sightseeing spot” and “I ate such and such local food,” but rather mostly stories based on feelings and events of the time recalled retrospectively.
In addition, while looking back on past trips, posters are also exploring other pleasures, such as creating the sensation of travel through their stomachs by ordering local specialties and spices from their travel destinations, showing the potential for further evolution.
Looking at the number of searches for “travel” over the last two years on Google Trends, we can see that, although searches declined drastically from around March, the number of searches has been going to normal since the beginning of the Golden Week holidays in late April and early May, although it has not returned to normal levels. It is apparent that people are caught between the desire to get out and travel and the fact that they are not yet free to travel. In view of the fact that overseas travel, in particular, will continue to be difficult, I believe that Ouchi Kiko will become increasingly widespread. In addition, sales of travel books have been strong since around May, suggesting that there is a growing need to scratch the desire to travel itch one way or another.
The biggest reason for the spread of Ouchi Kiko is, of course, people refraining from going out due to COVID-19, but there is other possible reason, too. That is a growing need for “real” content. Now that everyone is free to post content and celebrities are increasingly showing their true selves on social media, etc., I think there is a new climate in which people can enjoy the real travel experiences of others as content.
Lastly, let’s think about business opportunities offered by Ouchi Kiko.
Examples of Ouchi Kiko business opportunities
■ Live tours of tourist attractions by travel companies
■ Collaborations with tourist bureaus and food manufacturers to provide services that allow participants in such live tours to enjoy the foods of the places they are touring
■ Collaborations between education companies and museums/art galleries to offer virtual reality social studies excursions during summer holidays
to name just a few.
A habit that spread due to the outbreak of COVID-19, experiencing travel vicariously with acquaintances can also serve as a reference for choosing future travel destinations, so I think the habit will spread after the coronavirus as well.